Today the Toronto Community Foundation released its “Vital Signs” report for 2010.
The report reviews many aspects of Toronto’s economy using that word broadly — hard services like transportation, the benefits of environmental and cultural initiatives, the challenges faced by a community diverse in origins and income. This report will be the framework for a Mayoral candidates’ debate tonight (October 5) at the Glenn Gould Studio in the CBC Broadcasting Centre on Front Street. This will go live-to-air on Radio 1 at 7:30 pm.
The debate will have three major themes: incorporating newcomers to the city, a vision for transit and the need for a Mayor with a global view.
Vital Signs includes observations about transit and transportation:
- Weekday vehicle traffic entering Toronto has grown by 56% from 1985 to 2006. This is measured at the city boundary (the outer edge of the 416). However, from similar sources we know that there has been almost no change in the number of vehicles entering the core area. All of the growth is in the suburbs where land use favours car trips and transit has not kept up with the growth in demand. This is precisely the area where a substantial number of lower-paid jobs are located and where poorer families live.
- Toronto “ranks last” in congestion with the longest average commute time of major cities. This statement has been challenged before on the grounds that the methodology and information are inconsistent from city to city, but without question Toronto’s sprawl and low transit share (on a regional level) are major problems.
- Although several revenue sources have been proposed to generate the billions of dollars needed annually to construct and operate an extensive transit network, the commitment from Queen’s Park is lukewarm. “… the current level of funding requires postponing (perhaps indefinitely) a planned 22.5 km of track and 25 stations that would serve some of Toronto’s poorest neighbourhoods, and delays construction of four other major projects by several years.”
- Transit fares are very high in Toronto relative to other cities because of the comparatively low rate of subsidy.
- Growth in the transit system has been almost nil while population and potential demand for transit soared.
Vital Signs contains much other information reported previously, but consolidated here in one document. Whether our mayors-to-be will address the information, or simply trot out their tired campaign speeches remains to be seen.